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World Cup 1982

Paolo Rossi (Italy)
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (GER)
Zbigniew Boniek (Poland)
Zico (Brazil)
6 goals
5 goals
4 goals
4 goals
Number of games
Total goals scored
Average per game
Sendings off
Own goals
Total attendance
Average attendance


    In April 1970, Sir Stanley Rous said the World Cup would be better balanced with 24 teams. 12 years later there was an opportunity to see whether he was right or not, because at the FIFA congress just before the 1978 tournament started, it was agreed to increase the number of teams to either 20 or 24 depending upon the host nation's ability to cater for the extra matches. Spain hosted the 12th World Cup with 24 competing nations for the first time. Some people said this was at least a few qualifiers too many, but apart from El Salvador, none of the "new" nations made a fool of themselves. Cameroon held eventual winners Italy to a draw and were eliminated only on less goals scored than the Italians. Algeria shocked the world by beating West Germany and Honduras held host nation Spain to a draw.

     Because of the increased number of nations, there was yet another new format. The 24 nations were divided into six groups of four. The top two teams then went into four further groups with three teams in each, with the group winners progressing into the semifinal knock-out stage. Spain spent 40 million on revamping their stadiums which were in excellent condition by the time the World Cup started. The tournament was a success from the administrative viewpoint.

     Brazil came to Spain with their best team since 1970 and played some entertaining soccer with the likes of Zico, Eder, Socrates and Falcao. Defending champions Argentina lost the tournament's opening game against Belgium, but qualified easily to the next round anyway, with a rising star Maradona. Poland and France also had good sides and were expected to go far in this tournament.

     The system of a second groupstage won few friends in Spain. Thankfully this system was not going to be used in future world cups. However, Italy were placed in a group with heavyweighters like Brazil and Argentina. None gave them a chance, but Enzo Bearzot's side surprised everybody and beat both the South American giants. Paolo Rossi woke up and scored a hat-trick in Italy's 3-2 victory over Brazil, where the Brazillians only needed a draw to reach the semifinal. England went out unbeaten in the tournament, thanks to two goalless draws, while the Germans beat Spain and qualified. France had little trouble in eliminating Austria and Northern Ireland, while Poland continued to impress with a hat-trick by Boniek against Belgium. A draw against Soviet Union sent them to the semifinals.

     Paolo Rossi emerged as the star of the World Cup when he knocked in two more against Poland in the semifinal and sent Italy to the final. The other semifinal between West Germany and France has been described as perhaps the most dramatic in World Cup history. It was the first match ever to be decided on penalties in the World Cup. German keeper Schumacher became famous world wide when he knocked Battiston to the ground and escaped without even a caution. West Germany came back from 3-1 down in extra time, to win the following penalty shoot-out. Poland with Boniek back from suspension, won the bronzematch against France who played with many reserves. The Poles celebrated as if they had won the final itself. They had all reason to, they had played entertaining and achieved great results. Italy beat West Germany and won the World Cup for their third time, with Rossi getting another goal which established him as the topscorer of the tournament with six goals. Read more about the World Cup final by clicking on the "Final" link in the left column.


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